• Border Markers

Border Markers


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978-1-926455-69-3 | 2016 September | 104 Pages


After the accidental death of a teenaged friend, the Lansing family has split along fault lines previously hidden under a patina of suburban banality. Every family has secrets, but for the Lansings those secrets end up propelling them in different directions away from their border town to foreign shores and to prison.

Told in thirty-three flash fiction narratives, Border Markers is fractured like the psyches of its characters, all keen edges and tough language. It’s a slice of prairie noir that straddles the line between magical and gritty realism. Jenny Ferguson’s debut is a compelling collection of commonplace tragedies and surprising insights.

Shortlisted for the Cover Design Award at the 2016 Alberta Book Publishing Awards!

Border Markers is terrific and unsettling. Jenny Ferguson’s flash fiction debut serves up gritty kaleidoscopic fragments of quotidian tragedy in a small prairie city. Written in blunt and broken prose, as fractured as the lives they portray, these engrossing linked stories relate the tough noir tale of a family and its outliers, all blue-collar victims with the urge to survive—prison, ghostly hauntings, foreign countries, daily life.”
~ dee Hobsbawn-Smith, author of What Can’t Be Undone and Wildness Rushing In

“These chapters are flash fiction wonders. Delivered in a style both economical and replete, they resonate on live borders: between one province and another, between communion and solitude, between reality and the supernatural, between despair and hope.”
~ Susan Holbrook, author of Throaty Wipes and Joy Is So Exhausting

“Ferguson is a master of short form.... [Border Markers is] the kind of book you instantly want to re-read.”
~ Will J. Fawley, The Winnipeg Review

“Turning the pages of Ferguson's terrific first book is a clue-finding mission that leaves the reader wanting more.”
~ Rebecca Geleyn, The Fiddlehead

”In these subtle stories, what is left out carries more weight than what is stated. The delicate structuring and balance of the flash fiction can be upset by removing a sentence.... Ferguson knows how to craft flash fiction, and, in the end, her stories become a novella told from many perspectives.“
~ Ava Homa, Herizons

“This is a quick yet emotional read—a look at a place full of people that stay with you long after you’ve read it.” full review
~ Suzanne Baltsar, Bookish

From “The Story of the New Bumper”

Running late. Cruising along on empty, the light flashing, that warning gong making itself known as Mike attempted to minimize the visual impact of his bald patch in the rear-view mirror by tilting his head in increments. On the passenger seat lay a sad looking bouquet of grocery store checkout flowers, heavy on the limp, little white ones. He drove to that little store, half diner, half grocery store at lunch, out in Lashburn today. That’s why his tank hadn’t lasted the week. An unintentional trip. The red sticker caught Mike’s eye and he thought about peeling it from the Cellophane. Changed his mind as he shifted lanes, accelerating. It might be best if she saw he’d spent a few dollars thinking about her today.

The gas station was coming up on the left. If he didn’t turn in, he’d wind up late for work tomorrow. He’d be late for the morning meeting, would miss those minutes when everyone was busy and he could flirt with the new redhead, the secretary, transferred from out east, when he could take a shit in the bathroom on the second floor before the employees working there showed up and wanted to spend twenty minutes in the bathroom taking a shit of their own. So Mike turned into the gas station, reached out to keep his coffee mug from falling from the too-small cup holder, like he did every time he turned left.

One empty spot. Only one on account of the afternoon price drop.

Mike went for it, driving a bit too fast around the corner. He’d have to back in, but it would get him home quicker, to work on time in the a.m. A red dually truck, its bulky wheels heading towards Mike’s spot. Trying to take it from him. “Not going to happen, buddy. Never going to happen. Wait your own turn, asshole.” He whipped around the second corner with a wicked squeal.

The dually stopped when Mike took the corner. Gave in to Mike, backed off. Time to go for the brake, but during that last left turn, Mike had forgotten to hold a hand out to steady the coffee mug and it came up out of the too-small holder, fell to the floor, rolled under the brake. Mike jumped the curb and hit the pump. A hiss escaped from the pump. The woman at the pump ahead of Mike dropped her gas cap and ran for the road, her arms flailing above her.

Mike felt around the passenger seat for his cellphone, mangling the flowers when they got in his way. He hit the speed-dial. “Yeah, I’ve got a problem. At the Esso just east of Lloydminster.” He took a breath, his hand shaking as he reached for a cigarette. The people around him still standing at their pumps, admiring the truck and damage from a distance, began yelling. “Yeah. An accident,” Mike replied into the phone, flicking at his lighter.